songs tell the world who Arthur Kirson really
was. He loved being in love: with people he
knew, with people he saw on the street, with
celebrities he was determined to meet, and
sometimes did. Though by orientation he loved
men, some of his best love songs were written
The more deeply he loved, the more deeply
hurt he could become, with or without provocation.
His "I Hate People" and "The
Friendship Tango" speak to his disillusionment.
We laugh at them. We understand them. He speaks
for us all.
He also celebrated people, he celebrated dogs
(he was more certain of them than us: "Lulu
Was a Lady" and "She’s My
Dog"). One of his favorite songs late
in his life was "The Best Time of My
Life." He wrote "Life Is a Wonderful
Thing." He wrote "I Want More."
In "I Should Have Said It," he wrote,
"Funny world of promises; silly backward
glances. Retrospect and hindsight, poorly
planned advances. How the hell I failed to
say the little things I could have; how the
hell I failed to say the many things I should
have: I love you ...").
I knew Arthur for more than twenty years.
We wrote our first song in 1982. Arthur didn’t
like the way I set the lyric to our second
song, so we didn’t write much together
for the next fifteen years. And then it was
several songs a week: creative output exploding
as if it had been welling up in him for a
lifetime. I’ve often said that when
Arthur’s lyric is good, I can put it
before me on the piano, and the unwritten
music suddenly plays itself. And when a lyric
isn’t good, no amount of work could
save it. More than not, his lyrics would sing
Arthur died on the last day of February, 2003.
In our last conversation, in which we’d
discussed recording the new Christmas song
we’d written, Arthur ended the conversation
as he would only occasionally do, by saying,
"I love you." And though I regret
not having spent more time with him and not
having registered how ill he must have been
in the last weeks of his life, I’m forever
grateful for the wisdom I’d gained from,
"I Should Have Said It." I didn’t
get stupidly uncomfortable as I sometimes
did. I answered him.
I love you, too, Arthur. And I miss you.
March 7, 2003